The Facts on Climate Change :: April 16, 2007
Research & Development Initiatives
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The Committee on Science and Technology has jurisdiction over all non-military, government research & development (R&D) programs, including those that explore alternative energy technologies that might help us to mitigate climate change by providing energy sources without harmful emissions of greenhouse gases.
Applied Energy R&D
Hydrogen - Hydrogen and fuel cells have the potential to solve several major energy challenges: dependence on petroleum, poor air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions. The Hydrogen, Fuel Cells & Infrastructure Technologies Program is working with partners to accelerate the development and successful market introduction of technologies in hydrogen production, delivery, storage and fuel cells.
Vehicle Technologies - The FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies (FCVT) Program is developing more energy efficient and environmentally friendly highway transportation technologies that will enable America to use less petroleum. The long-term aim is to develop "leap frog" technologies that will provide Americans with greater freedom of mobility and energy security, while lowering costs and reducing impacts on the environment. Areas of R&D include energy storage systems, power electronics, advanced combustion engines, fuels & lubricants and advanced materials.
- Solar - Solar energy technologies have great potential to benefit our nation. They can diversify our energy supply, reduce our dependence on imported fuels, improve the quality of the air we breathe, offset greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate our economy by creating jobs in the manufacturing and installation of solar energy systems. The Solar Energy Technologies Program focuses on improving the following solar technologies: Concentrating Solar Power (CSP), Photovoltaics (PV), Solar Heating and Solar Lighting.
- Wind - The Department of Energy (DOE) is working with wind industry partners to develop clean, domestic, innovative wind energy technologies that can compete with conventional fuel sources. DOE's Wind Energy Program efforts have culminated in some of industry's leading products today and have contributed to record-breaking industry growth. In 2005, the US installed more new wind energy capacity than any other country in the world. The new capacity, totaling 2,431 megawatts (MW) brought the total national wind energy capacity to 9,149 MW, enough to power 2.3 million average American households. In 2006, an additional 2,454 MW were installed bringing the nation's total installed capacity to 11,603 MW.
- Geothermal - Geothermal energy holds the potential to provide large amounts of clean, carbon-free, base-load electricity generation. The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Geothermal Technologies Program works in partnership with U.S. industry to establish geothermal energy as an economically competitive contributor to the U.S. energy supply. Areas of R&D include resource identification and assessment, drilling technology and Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).
- Biomass - The DOE Biomass Program develops technology to convert plant-derived material (biomass) into valuable fuels, chemicals, materials and power. The largest U.S. renewable energy source every year since 2000, biomass also provides the only renewable alternative for liquid transportation fuel. Biomass use strengthens rural economies, decreases America's dependence on imported oil, avoids use of MTBE or other highly toxic fuel additives, reduces air and water pollution, and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. Today's biomass uses include ethanol, biodiesel, biomass power and industrial process energy.
- Hydro - With 80,000 megawatts of generating capacity from hydroelectric dams, hydropower is the nation's largest renewable electricity source. Working with industry, the Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program pursues R&D to develop more environmentally friendly technologies to maintain the nation's existing hydropower capacity.
Nuclear - Growing awareness of climate change has sparked renewed interest in nuclear power as an emission-free source of electrical power. DOE's Nuclear Energy (NE) program promotes secure, competitive and environmentally responsible nuclear technologies to serve the present and future energy needs of the United States and the world. A key mission of DOE's nuclear energy R&D is to chart the way toward introduction of the next generation of nuclear power plants.
Coal - The US possesses one quarter of the world's coal reserves with a total energy content exceeding that of all the world's known recoverable oil. Coal currently supplies more than half the electricity consumed by Americans. The DOE Fossil Energy research program is working with the private sector to develop innovative technologies to capture the greenhouse gases emitted by coal plants and prevent them from entering the atmosphere where they could contribute to climate change.
- Building Technologies - DOE's Building Technologies Program works in partnership with states, industry, and manufacturers to improve the energy efficiency of our nation's buildings. Through innovative new technologies and systems-engineered building practices they are transforming how we design, build and operate the approximately 15 million new buildings projected to be constructed by 2015. Energy-efficient buildings use less energy, cost less to operate and increase comfort. They help the environment and our nation, improving our energy security as well as the everyday lives of Americans.
- Federal Energy Management Program - The federal government is the largest energy consumer in the United States, and thus, has both a tremendous opportunity and a clear responsibility to lead by example with smart energy management. By promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy resources at federal sites, the Federal Energy Management Program helps agencies save energy, save taxpayer dollars, and demonstrate leadership with responsible, cleaner energy choices.
- Industrial Technologies - The Industrial Technologies Program works with U.S. industry to improve industrial energy efficiency and environmental performance. The program invests in high-risk, high-value R&D to reduce industrial energy use while stimulating productivity and growth. Results of this investment are seen in the many ITP-funded technologies in the marketplace today.
SmartGrid Technologies - The Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability supports a portfolio of research on advanced electricity technologies that will influence the future of all aspects of the electric transmission and distribution system. OE research in Visualization and Controls, High Temperature Superconductivity, Distributed Energy, Energy Storage and Power Electronics is laying the groundwork for the future electric grid.
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